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Roger Federer: 'It was a joy to watch Shapovalov against Nadal'

Roger Federer: 'It was a joy to watch Shapovalov against Nadal'

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by Gatto Luigi

There were many questions for Roger Federer about Denis Shapovalov's win over Rafael Nadal at the end of his match against Roberto Bautista Agut. 'I watched the entire match, in fact', the Swiss player revealed. 'I was home, and I thought I would watch. I was tired, so I ate in my room. It was a fabulous match. It was good for all the fans here in Montreal, and in Canada as a whole. Also for Denis. I believe he played an extraordinary match. He kept moving forward, hitting the ball hard. He had nothing to lose, of course. But Rafa will never give away a match. You have to go and earn it. He did it. It's good for him. It's good for tennis, too. A young player of 18 years winning against a legend like Rafa is always good for tennis because then we talk about other players. I think we are going to see him in the Masters and the Grand Slams. It was wonderful to watch. They were both very intense. As usual, Rafa was very classy. He was good. He can play better than that. The surface was fast. But I really enjoyed watching the match. I think he did himself a favor. I think that's what counts there. For me, I know I can't become world No. 1 here anyway. I'm just playing Montreal for the tournament that it is, and I'm trying to win it for the first time in my career. That's going to not change with Rafa going out. So world No. 1 for me was anyway something for later in the year. Now all of a sudden next week, maybe. Obviously at the US Open, I think it's up for grabs for Rafa and myself. I don't know how much Rafa cares about the year-end No. 1, or if he just cares about getting back to it for a short while. I don't know about myself either. Either way it's big for either of us just to get back to world No. 1 once again in your career is a big deal, especially later in your life. I think we'll both just try to stay healthy and keep going. It's fun that it's being carried over now to Cincinnati or then the latest to the US Open, even for the rest of the year. It's a good race and it's exciting for tennis.'

What time in your career do you think you were sort of fearless? 'Same time. Also that whole 17, 18, 19, 20. I guess let's say the first three years on tour, first two maybe, just because opponents don't quite know your patterns yet. They don't know what you're going to do. You don't know yourself what you're going to do on the breakpoint. Are you going to take it and then go for it? Are you going to say, Let me close my eyes for one second and go for it. Maybe you shank one, then the next you belt it. You're like, Hmm, let's do that next time around. It works. It works again. You just fuel your confidence like that. But I've seen him do it many times, you know. I think I watched his semis at junior Wimbledon against Tsitsipas. He was in all sorts of trouble. Kept going for the biggest shots, forehands, backhands and serves. I couldn't believe what he was doing. I guess for him it's somewhat normal for him to do that. Obviously it's risky. Doesn't always play off. Playing forward, doing that on Court 4 against a journeyman is a different story than doing it on center court. We all know that. But not everybody can go up to that level. It seems that Denis has an extra gear. I said this before this win. I like his game. I think he's going to be a wonderful player. Seems to have a good attitude, too. It was a joy to watch.'

Analyzing his win over Bautista, Federer added:'I believe I served better earlier in the match. But I still believed Bautista Agut didn't return as well as Ferrer. Both things combined, two major factors in a beginning of a match, I was able to get into the match better. Of course, it was tough until 4-All. But my game plan worked better against Bautista Agut than against Ferrer. I believe it's because today I was more aggressive coming to the net. It was more possible today. I was aggressive yesterday, but I couldn't carry it out because Ferrer had better momentum from the baseline. It made things more complicated for me yesterday.'

About playing against Robin Haase, who advanced into his first Masters 1000 semifinal after multiple injuries, Federer said: 'First of all I'm happy for him. We spent a lot of time on the player council together at the ATP level. I know him well. Had a lot of good discussions about tennis politics for many years. We practice a lot together, as well, in Dubai and here again this week. So we always chat a lot in the locker room, have good talks. I'm very happy for him that he's playing very well this week, and achieved his first Masters 1000 semis. We actually spoke last year in Wimbledon together about his knee issue. Then I was having the knee issue. So we're just trying to compare his feelings and my feelings because he was going through a rough patch before that, as well, over a longer period of time than I did. He also I think had surgery at one point. I think we're both happy that we're doing well again. I'm looking forward to a tough match because he can serve very well, and he mixes up his tactics a lot, you know. Sometimes he tends to just roll the ball in and use the big serve, or he uses a slice a lot and comes in. So I don't quite know with Robin what I'm going to get tomorrow yet. But as I have practiced with him quite a bit, maybe I am better prepared than if I would have never hit with him before. So I'm looking forward to the match. Should be a good one.'

Speaking about potential Masters 1000 format changes, Federer said: 'I wish we have would see some more best-of-five-set matches at some Masters 1000s or in the World Tour Finals, in the Finals for sure. Also I came up there and played best-of-five set finals in Basel, Vienna, Gstaad, Indian Wells, Miami. I played them everywhere. I think it's a pity we don't have any anymore at all on the ATP level. So there's always a lot we can change. I don't think there's that much wrong with the game right now. Don't need to fix too much. Maybe one more thing you could argue is there's too many points on the winner's side. I think the gap between winner and finals and semis and quarters is too great when it comes to the points. Let's say you take the example of a slam, winning is 2000, a quarters is 360. I think the gap is just way too big. Quarters is not a bad result, yet you're looking at the guy who won, looks like you didn't even play the tournament. For me that's a bit too extreme. Maybe we could adjust that a little bit and just make it so it's not so brutally one-sided always that the points are starting from semis in tournaments. It rewards the winners, and I'm all for that as well in some ways.'

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